Stroll down memory lane with these old-fashioned desserts

Want to take a stroll down memory lane, courtesy of some delicious desserts? Here, Chris Kimball of "America's Test Kitchen" shares recipes for old-fashioned treats like black and white cookies, banana pudding and strawberry poke cake.

Black and white cookies

Makes 12 cookies.


  • For the cookies:

    • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • For the glaze:

    • 5 cups (20 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
    • 7 tablespoons whole milk
    • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted


Baking Directions:

Twelve cookies doesn't sound like much, but these cookies are huge. You'll get neater cookies if you spread on the vanilla glaze first. This recipe provides a little extra glaze, just in case.To make the cookies:1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl.2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of sour cream, scraping down bowl as needed. Give dough final stir by hand.3. Using greased 1/4-cup measure, drop cookie dough 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until edges are lightly browned, 15 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.To make the glaze:1. Whisk sugar, 6 tablespoons milk, corn syrup, vanilla and salt together in bowl until smooth. Transfer 1 cup glaze to small bowl; reserve. Whisk cocoa and remaining 1 tablespoon milk into remaining glaze until combined. 2. Working with 1 cookie at a time, spread 1 tablespoon vanilla glaze over half of underside of cookie. Refrigerate until glaze is set, about 15 minutes. Cover other half of cookies with 1 tablespoon chocolate glaze and let cookies sit at room temperature until glaze is firm, at least 1 hour. Serve. (Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Banana pudding

Serves 12.


  • For the pudding:

    • 7 slightly underripe large bananas
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 8 large egg yolks
    • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 6 cups half-and-half
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • For the whipped topping:

    • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Baking Directions:

If your food processor bowl holds less than 11 cups, puree half the pudding with the roasted bananas and lemon juice in step 3, transfer it to a large bowl, and whisk in the rest of the pudding.To roast the bananas:Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place 3 unpeeled bananas on baking sheet and bake until skins are completely black, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.To make the pudding:Meanwhile, whisk 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch in medium bowl until smooth. Bring half-and-half, remaining sugar, and salt to simmer over medium heat in large saucepan. Whisk 1/2 cup simmering half-and-half mixture into egg yolk mixture. Slowly whisk tempered yolk mixture into saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and large bubbles appear at surface, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Process the pudding by transferring it to food processor. Add warm peeled roasted bananas and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and process until smooth. Scrape into large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Refrigerate until slightly cool, about 45 minutes.To assemble and chill:Cut remaining bananas into 1/4-inch slices and toss in bowl with remaining lemon juice. Spoon one-quarter of pudding into 3-quart trifle dish and top with layer of cookies, layer of sliced bananas, and another layer of cookies. Repeat twice, ending with pudding. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding and refrigerate until wafers have softened, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days. Next, prepare to top and serve. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. (Whipped cream can be refrigerated for 4 hours.) Top banana pudding with whipped cream. Serve.To make toasted-coconut banana pudding:Prepare banana pudding, replacing 2 cups half-and-half with 1 (16-ounce) can coconut milk in step 2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut over whipped-cream-topped pudding before serving.To make peanut-y banana pudding:Prepare banana pudding. In step 4, sandwich 2 vanilla wafers around 1 banana slice and 1/2 teaspoon creamy peanut butter (you'll need 1/2 cup total). Assemble by alternating layers of pudding and cookie-banana sandwiches, ending with pudding. Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts over whipped-cream-topped pudding before serving.Test Kitchen technique:We put the banana back in banana pudding. Most recipes for banana pudding actually use vanilla pudding. We put true banana flavor where it belongs — in the pudding itself — by roasting slightly under-ripe bananas to make them richer and sweeter, and to break down their fibers.

Strawberry poke cake

Makes one 13-by-9-inch cake, serving 12.


  • For the cake:

    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
    • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • For the syrup and topping:

    • 4 cups frozen sliced strawberries
    • 6 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons strawberry-flavored gelatin
    • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled


Baking Directions:

The top of the cake will look very dark and slightly overbaked — this helps keeps the cake from becoming too soggy after the gelatin is poured over the top.1. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the milk, vanilla and egg whites together.2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining milk mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.3. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is very brown, about 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours.4. For the syrup and topping: Combine 3 cups of the strawberries, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, water and orange juice in a medium saucepan, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the strawberries are softened, about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into a medium bowl, reserving the strained solids. Whisk the gelatin into the liquid and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.5. Use a wooden skewer to poke 50 large holes in the cooled cake. Don't poke the cake through to the bottom, but twist the skewer when poking to enlarge the holes. Pour the cooled gelatin mixture evenly over the top of the cake, making sure to cover the holes. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the gelatin is set, about 3 hours.6. Pulse the reserved strained strawberries, 2 more tablespoons sugar, and the remaining 1 cup frozen strawberries together in a food processor until the mixture resembles strawberry jam, 5 to 7 pulses. Spread the mixture evenly over the cake. (The cake can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)7. Before serving, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar together to soft peaks and spread evenly over the cake. Serve.